The Arabian Peninsula, from the wild nature of Oman to the dazzling city of Dubai, is increasingly becoming a hotspot for travelers from all corners of the world. Before traveling there however, it’s always best to read up on the histories, cultures, and people of the region; just to get a better understanding of where you’re actually going. Here are the best books to add to your reading list.
Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey
Originally banned from the country for “exposing” certain truths about the Royal Family, Robert Lacey’s book on Saudi Arabia and its ruling family, the history of the nation, and possible links to terrorism is a must-read for anyone wanting an in-depth and truly riveting account. This groundbreaking book should be on anyone’s list who wants a deeper understanding of the politics of the region as a whole.
The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism by Toby Matthiesen
From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi by Mohammad Al-Fahim
A first-hand account from the author, who was born in 1948 in Abu Dhabi and remembers what the city was like before the oil boom, this book is perfect for those who really want to understand why the UAE is one of the richest countries in the world today. From his time running around barefoot in the royal palace and life with the local Bedouin, Al-Fahim takes you back to a time when Abu Dhabi was still a sleepy town in the middle of the desert.
Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
Written by traveler and explorer Wilfred Thesiger in 1959, this is one of the best travel literatures on the UAE that speaks of the country’s past before the oil boom. Focusing on the author’s travels through the Empty Quarter and the deserts of the UAE with the local Bedouin, this book will guarantee to make you want to explore the Empty Quarter yourself!
The Hashemite Kings by Jan Morris
Tracing the history of arguably the most powerful Arabian family, the Hashemites, and their relationship with Great Britain, Jan Morris takes us back in time and brings to life the workings of the inner family circle. This book is perfect for those who want a deeper understanding of this family from Arabia that managed to become powerful royal figures all over the Middle East.
Bahrain’s Uprising: Resistance and Repression in the Gulf by Alaa Shehabi and Marc Owen Jones
Published only two years ago and still relevant today in this small but strategic country in the Gulf, this book goes through the intricacies of the Bahraini revolution that was a part of the so-called Arab Spring. Incredibly important in understanding the politics of the Arabian Peninsula, this book is a must-read to not only understand Bahrain better, but the entire region as a whole.
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson
A narrative about the Arab Revolt of WWI, this book is a classic in any study or critique of both the Arabian Peninsula and the literature written about it by the West. While this book should be taken with a grain of salt because it chronicles the British experience and not the actual Arabian experience, it still remains one of the most classical works of literature to come out of the Arabian Peninsula.
Orientalism by Edward Said
Although not specifically about the Arabian Peninsula, this groundbreaking book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the Middle East. Coining the word ‘orientalism’, Edward Said takes the reader through a journey of the West’s relationship with the “Orient” and the consequences that stem from this today. This book has never been more important than before to understand much of what is happening in the Middle East.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.